Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Research (MERL) Specialist


Terms of Reference

Position Title:

Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Research (MERL) Specialist



Period of Assignment:

September 2020 to September 2021 (plus possible extension)

Reporting To:

Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Research Manager


With more than 30 years of experience, Cowater International is Canada’s global leader in management consulting services specializing in international development. We have managed the implementation of over 800 projects in more than 80 countries around the globe for clients such as DFID, DFAT Australia, the World Bank and Global Affairs Canada. We work with governments, partner organizations, communities and civil society to design and implement sustainable solutions that generate lasting social, economic and environmental impacts. Our adaptive approach to management has led to our award-winning work and recognition as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies in 2017 and 2018.

Cowater is recruiting a (Senior) Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Research (MERL) Specialist to support Aus4Equality/Gender Responsive Equitable Agriculture and Tourism (GREAT) Program in Vietnam.  The Program seeks to promote women’s economic empowerment (WEE) in the ethnically diverse north-west region of Vietnam. The primary beneficiaries are women living in the provinces of Son La and Lao Cai with a focus on economic inclusion for of women from ethnic minority communities.  The objectives of the Aus4Equality|GREAT Program are:

  • Objective 1 – Empowering local women: Women living in local communities have increased capacity, space and choices to beneficially engage with agriculture and tourism businesses.
  • Objective 2 – Inclusive businesses partnerships: Selected private sector actors within the agriculture and tourism sectors innovate to profitably and sustainably trade with more women entrepreneurs and operate in gender sensitive ways.
  • Objective 3 – Improving sector governance and policy: Government agencies reinforce policies, and enact plans, regulations and services that enable more inclusive socio-economic development.

Key approaches applied by the program include: Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE), Market Systems Development (MSD), Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships, Adaptive Management, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI), and Innovation. Approximately 50 partners, including businesses, government agencies and NGOs, implement activities and deliver results, to strengthen markets for ethnic minority communities, particularly women, in two provinces in the northern mountainous region of Vietnam. 

Statement of Duty:

The MERL Specialist will work under the supervision of the MERL Manager. The MERL Specialist will contribute along with the MERL team to effectively  implement the MERL Framework. This includes conducting and coordinating MERL activities to support the development and implementation of a responsive and robust MERL system for the Program  that generates evidence used for reporting. communication and knowledge dissemination. The role will provide support to MERL Manager to carry out quality check of MERL products, conduct data analysis and data quality assessments and provide support and guidance to partners to implement MERL activities.

Specific Duties:

GREAT level activities:

  • Carry out quality assurance of MERL related products before submitting them to the MERL Manager for a final review
  • Contribute to GREAT level workplan development for MERL
  • Contribute to the development of MERL guidelines and training materials
  • Conduct data analysis to generate evidence for the GREAT Program’s and projects learning, planning and decision making
  • Training for partners on M&E and MIS as necessary
  • Contribute to MIS development and operations
  • Participate and/or coordinate project level baseline, midline, endline assessments
  • Contribute to the organisation and implementation of the longitudinal study
  • Contribute to the development and implementation of the knowledge management plan
  • Participate and organise learning activities such as the Reflect and Refocus workshops and other learning activities
  • Organise Joint Monitoring Missions and conduct data quality assessment trips
  • Provide data and inputs to GREAT level reports when required
  • Collect necessary local data as required
  • Mentor other MERL and GREAT team members
  • Supervise staff

Partner level activities

  • Monitor progress, generate data on projectprogress and provide support to partners improve MERL and data related issues throughout the project management cycle
  • Monitor and support partners to execute the partner level M&E plans
  • Collaborate and coordinate with other teams to develop project design, results chains and M&E plans for new projects
  • Collaborate with Partnership Managers to modify project results chains and M&E plans for partnership agreement modification when needed; including encoding  revised results chains, indicators and updated work plan into the MIS
  • Prepare progress data and templates for partner annual workplans
  • Review and appraise partner annual workplans and provide support to partners to make improvements, particularly for setting relevant targets
  • Synthesise partnerworkplans to generate GREAT level targets
  • Collaborate with technical team and OPS team to update partners’ workplans and encode updated workplans into MIS
  • Support partners to prepare quarterly reports and assess quarterly report ensuring good quality of quarterly reports; and synthesise information from quarterly reports  
  • Carry out data quality assessment and measurements for data quality assurance
  • Collect necessary local data as required

Required Qualifications:

The MERL Specialist will have the following skills, knowledge and experience:

  • At least 7 years of experience in the field of monitoring and evaluation or social research in the international development sector;
  • Tertiary qualification in a relevant area such as evaluation, economics, statistics, development studies, or any other relevant social science;
  • Knowledge of M&E and aid effectiveness concepts and procedures;
  • Strong experience and skills in data collection, analysis, and management;
  • Strong monitoring and reporting skills with excellent knowledge and experience in programmanagement;
  • Ability to manage multiple demands and prioritise tasks, work effectively, flexibly and collaboratively with diverse stakeholders, and support other team members as needed;
  • Ability to understand the data needs of a broad range of users;
  • Experience maintaining relationships with stakeholders at all levels (government, international and local NGOs, and at community level);
  • Demonstrated knowledge and understanding of gender-related issues and  women’s economic empowerment concepts (highly preferable); 
  • Demonstrated knowledge and understanding of M&E for market system or private sector development (highly preferable)
  • Have a good level of critical thinking and systemic thinking;
  • Willing to work in a high pace and highly adaptive environment; and
  • Fluency in Vietnamese, and working knowledge of English.


Interested candidates are invited to send application to [email protected]. Please indicate the Job title in the subject line.

Application should include:

  • A cover letter including a response to each of the selection criteria
  • A detailed Curriculum Vitae
  • Contact of 03 referees

Deadline of submission: 5pm Thursday 17th September 2020

For more opportunities, please visit our website at or facebook page at

Women, and people of minority groups, are encouraged to apply.

Job Details
Organisation Name: 
Aus4Equality|GREAT Program
Application Deadline: 
Thu, 2020-09-17